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Danish National Bank

Copenhagen, Denmark
1 of 11

The Nationalbank building in the middle of Copenhagen is a distinctive presence in the street scene. It was designed by the internationally renowned Danish architect Arne Jacobsen and is considered one of Arne Jacobsen's finest works. The extensive building was constructed in stages, commencing in 1965. The first stage comprised the construction of a new note printing works. After Arne Jacobsen's death in March 1971 the architectural firm Dissing + Weitling took over the building project. The Nationalbank's new building stood completed at the end of 1978. Overall the complex comprises 48,131 m2.


The facades of the building is of unhewn stone and glass. The end wall and the facade wall at ground-floor level are covered with light, grey-toned Porsgrunn marble, named after the town near the Norwegian quarry. Its colour is in harmony with the dominant colours seen in the Gammelholm quarter. The glass curtain-wall varies widely in appearance depending on the weather and time of day.

The interior of the building

From the main entrance a modest, almost square cavern in the wall of the base of the building the visitor is led through the curved hallway into the almost 20 meters high lobby. At the other end of the lobby, a sculptural steel staircase serves the six floors to which the lobby provides access. The unusual shape of the space, the simple choice of materials and - for the first time visitor - surprising height, are emphasized by the narrow vertical openings that allow an expressive play of daylight to the space. A continous series of five tapestries woven by Kim Naver provide red and yellow colour tones in contrast to the subdued colours of the lobby.

A high degree of unity in the finished result

One of the characteristics of Arne Jacobsen's building is the attention paid to every detail. His working process, where all of the various building components were controlled, made it possible to ensure a high degree of unity in the finished result. Arne Jacobsen's Munkgards lamps, originally designed for Munkegard School, are used in offices and corridors. Doors are fitted with AJ handles and so-called Banker's clocks are used throughout the building. Like the VOLA water taps and accessories, the clocks were designed especially for the Nationalbank building.


The area adjacent to the Nationalbank building has a small forecourt garden with a sweeping granite wall, a pool of water and linden trees opposite Holmens Church. At the top of the low part of the Nationalbank building there is a green roof garden. There are two interior courtyards situated in the middle of the tall building block. The main purpose of the courtyards is to serve as lightwells for the offices surrounding them as well as the only view from the interior: thus great emphasis was placed on the design.

The architectural treatment of the two courtyards uses stone, water and plants as the common materials. The largest, earliest courtyard is called Arne's Garden, since it was designed by Arne Jacobsen. The garden is more than 700 m2. It comprises a composition of low, semi-circular concrete drums that serve as beds for plants and four pools. The second smaller courtyard is situated deep within the building at first-floor level and is therefore dark. It is constructed as a rock garden with five mirror pools with waterlilies and goldfish.

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mariathuroczy, August 14th, 2013
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